Entries from December 2006 ↓

Sic semper tyrannis?

And so it ends. Saddam has been executed and the event captured, from beginning to end, on video. As the media are reporting it, Saddam’s Shi’a executioners slipped the noose around his neck whilst people in the crowd can be heard to chant “Moqtada, Moqtada” in obvious reference to Iraqi Shi’a leader Moqtada as-Sadr. As the trapdoor opens and he drops through it, Saddam can be heard saying the shahada (testimony of faith). The grainy snuff film speaks volumes about what took place yesterday.

Few Muslims will lament the end of Saddam’s reign and injustice and oppression rarely lasts forever — sic semper tyrannis — but one can’t help but be less than optimistic about the effect that his execution will have on the course of events in Iraq.

Firstly, contrary to what some people are now saying, this was not the Nuremberg Trials (not that the Nuremberg Trials were themselves free of criticism); but this was not a didactic exercise for other would-be tyrants and a supposed example of justice and due process. Saddam was tried only for one of his more minor offences against humanity and not for what are thought to have been far more serious atrocities such as the gassing of the Kurds. The opportunity that the trials afforded to examine and judge every detail of Saddam’s rule was largely wasted in favour, it seems, of a quick trial and execution.

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The Islamic MBA

‘Aqoul link to an article in the Financial Times about a new Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree being offered in Islamic finance in Dubai. The article reads:

Is the world about to witness the first fully fledged MBA programme that combines religious tenets with mainstream business management?

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Eid Mubarak!

Whether you are celebrating today or tomorrow, we wish all our friends and readers a very happy and blessed Eid ul-Adha.

Khadijah’s Christmas Message

The United Kingdom’s Channel Four screened an alternative Christmas message this year: delivered by a Muslim woman in niqab named Khadijah. The first Khadijah — Khadija Rava, a 33 year old teacher — apparently pulled out earlier in the month and so Channel Four replaced her with another Khadijah.

The woman – named only as Khadijah – who converted to Islam around ten years ago and spoke with a southern accent, used her five-minute speech to condemn Commons leader Jack Straw for speaking out against the full veil, or niqab, earlier this year. She also told of her worry for a relative in the Army who is set to go to Afghanistan, and told viewers her great-grandmother was a suffragette. Mr Straw triggered a storm of controversy in October when he said he regarded full veils as a “visible statement of separation and difference” which harmed community relations.

The footage of her Christmas address:

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Somalia: Is anarchy the solution or the problem?

One of the books I’ve had on my reading list over the Christmas break has been the late Michael Van Notten’s The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa (Catallaxy has some comments on the book here).

Essentially, Van Notten documents the apparent success with which Somalia has been able to operate without any government, relying instead on customary law, clans and tribes, and a privatised court system. Although I bought it long before the current crises in Somalia, it nonetheless makes fascinating reading and raises some interesting ideas about how a society can be organised if, in the absence of government, there is a strong tribal or clan-based system. One can find a summary of some of Van Notten’s observations here.

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Paint by colour film-making

So there’s a new Canadian film out in cinemas at the moment called Sabah. It’s about a Muslim woman who falls in love with, wait for it… a non-Muslim man. Original, huh? It’s being touted as a serious My Big Fat Greek Wedding. (Too easy, you really don’t need me to comment on that).

Anyway, besides the romantic comedy aspect of it, I was quite amused to note Sabah’s version of hijab. She has lots of skin and hair showing, and any older she’d look like a Greek woman I used to buy lollies from when I was in school, which is apt since the film is totally like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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Lebanon: A Primer

Uri Avnery writing at Antiwar.com:

To give some idea of the Lebanese tangle, a few recent examples: in the civil war that broke out in 1975, Pierre Gemayel, the chief of a Maronite family, called upon the Syrians to invade Lebanon in order to help him against his Sunni neighbors, who were about to attack his territory. His grandson by the same name, who was murdered this week, was a member of a coalition whose aim is to liquidate Syrian influence in Lebanon. The Sunnis, who were fighting against the Syrians and the Christians, are now the allies of the Christians against the Syrians.

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Muslim community gives to disadvantaged

Well, not exactly. Unless, of course, one considers accountants to be amongst the more disadvantaged members of society.

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), ostensibly the representatives of Australian Muslims, were placed into administration earlier this year after the squabbling factions (Pakistanis versus Fijians) brought the organisation to a grinding halt leaving bills and wages unable to be paid. Even though many Muslims wouldn’t consider the organisation to be representative of their interests or values, it is nonetheless embarassing that an organisation perceived by many non-Muslims as our representative body, should have self-destructed in such as unpropitious and very public manner.

Now, we read that, just in time for Christmas, the Federal Court has agreed to double the salary of the non-Muslim accountant charged with running AFIC to AUD$130,000.

The administrator of the nation’s peak Muslim body will have his salary doubled to deal with the mess that has left the organisation paralysed and its executive board suspended.The Federal Court yesterday also gave Jamieson Louttit the authority to sort out leadership-related problems within Muslim state councils affiliated with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

Judge Ray Finkelstein approved Mr Louttit’s request for his salary to be doubled to $130,000 to help end the feuding at AFIC ahead of fresh elections for the leadership next year.

Ordinarily, one would denounce this as a shameful waste of community resources but that would imply, of course, that AFIC was doing something other than wasting money before this shameful episode. However, as an independent audit of the organisation revealed earlier in the year (see here for a leaked copy of the auditor’s report), AFIC has been accused of an assortment of calumnies including nepotism, mismanagement, and, most alarmingly, extorting money from Muslim schools through the imposition of exhorbitant rents. This is, of course, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the organisation has spent on lawyers whilst purusing it various petty disputes — none of which seem to have had the best interests of the broader community at heart. As one of the AFIC people himself declared:

Mr Sali said AFIC’s turmoil, which had cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees over the years, reminded him of war-torn Iraq.

“There’s only two letters that distinguish AFIC from Iraq,” he said.

So what is our exit strategy?

An ID card for Australia?

Some Australians have launched a campaign — Access Card No Way — against the card-which-isn’t-an-identity-card to be launched by the government has a replacement for the current Medicare card. This is an issue which all Australians, including Muslim Australians, need to familiarise ourselves with. For some of the arguments against the so-called Access Card, refer to Tim Warner’s speech to the Adam Smith Club earlier this year. More information can also be found at Electronic Frontiers Australia and at the Australian Privacy Foundation. And in case anyone thinks opposition to the card is simply the domain of hardcore libertarians and their like, it’s worth nothing that the Australian Medical Association, Australian Computer Society and Victorian Privacy Commissioner have all warned against its introduction.
(Hat tip to the Australian Libertarian Society)

Al-Jazeera chief on the cause of Arab stagnation

Earlier in the month, the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche published an interview with Ahmed Sheikh, editor-in-chief of Al-Jazeera. The entire interview is worth reading but the final exchange is especially interesting.

It reads:

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